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Aug 10, 2015
This week’s theme
Words related to space

This week’s words
saturnalia
meteoric
venery
tellurian
constellate

Saturnalia painting by Antoine Callet
Saturnalia
Art: Antoine Callet (1741-1823)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

When I find myself unduly worried about something, I look up. I see an expanse billions of miles across, billions of years in time. Puts it all in perspective. Then I leap back to Earth and read about the presidential candidates here in the US who would stoop to any low in pursuit of the right to rule a tiny speck of dust for a tiny fraction of a second.

If I had my way, I would make an Astronomy 101 course mandatory for everyone, especially for those running for office.

That may not happen any time soon, but a small step would be to replace astrology columns in newspapers and magazines with an astronomy one. One can dream. And this week let’s dream about what’s out there in the big beyond. We’ll feature five words related to the planets and other objects in space.

PS: For a gentle introduction to astronomy, check out this excellent video series by Phil Plait: Crash Course Astronomy.

saturnalia

PRONUNCIATION:
(sat-uhr-NAY-lee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: A time of unrestrained revelry.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin Saturnalia (relating to Saturn). In ancient Rome, Saturnalia was a festival organized in honor of the Roman god Saturn who also gave his name to the planet Saturn. Earliest documented use: 1591. Also see saturnine and saturnian.

USAGE:
“It is a sort of holiday, a saturnalia, a time of licence when restrictions on liberty can be cast aside.”
Allan Massie; Rioters Just Want Excitement -- and New Trainers; The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland); Aug 10, 2011.

See more usage examples of saturnalia in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I like the pluralism of modernity; it doesn't threaten me or my faith. And if one's faith is dependent on being reinforced in every aspect of other people's lives, then it is a rather insecure faith, don't you think? -Andrew Sullivan, author and editor (b. 10 Aug 1963)

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